Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mind Those Teeth!!!

I bet this is the only blog you see about teeth today, but I have an excuse.

So I just got a deep cleaning. For those of you unaware, this is what happens when you neglect your every six month check-ups and fall back on flossing. You end up needing then to dig in there and do a little cleaning UNDER the gumline.

My mouth hurts.

So don't do that. Floss at least 3 or 4 times a week. Go to the dentist every six months. It may not be your favorite activity, but it is better than the other thing...

And it's got me thinking... Teeth can be a really striking part of a person's appearance. I remember falling for a guy named Wendell in college because he had the same wonky teeth as David Bowie. He also had the two tone eye thing, but both were blue with brown specs, rather that one of each eye, but never mind. The mouth... that the crooked could appeal to me so much because it reminded me of Bowie...

Some people really love straight, white teeth, and don't we all want them, but that filed eye teeth thing movie stars do? Not for me. Gimme natural edges. I also prefer bigger teeth to smaller teeth, but it's not a deal breaker.

But OTHER than that straight, white teeth thing... how often are teeth mentioned in fiction? I mean grody teeth are shorthand for meth-heads, so there is a genre or two that get into that domain...

There is a Zadie Smith novel actually called white teeth... about a heroine with NO front teeth at the start... I remember liking the book but it's been ages, so I don't remember much about it, though I know white teeth were something associated with class and self confidence.

So how do YOU feel about teeth? Do you include them in your descriptions? What are your favorite tooth mentions in books? Unusual teeth on characters in movies or TV?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Writing First

Hallo, fine peoples! And Welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group's August Meeting!

I'm Hart! And I'm Insecure!

(Hi Hart)


But anyway, the IWSG is running with a question these, which is a relief, to be honest. I only have so many blogable events related to my insecurity or anti-insecurity, so this makes things much easier. The question for August is this:

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published? 

But see... The answer depends on emphasis and interpretation...

Because I was an aspiring writer even as a teen. I had half a dozen story starts... and I was an aspiring writer in grad school when I wrote 200 single spaced pages of a horror novel that petered out.

And I was REALLY a writer when I wrote fan fiction. These were the first novel-length works I actually finished and I shared them as I went. The first of THOSE is this:

Baby Snape and his mum by Sir Aristocrat

The Other Prince: Eileen Snape's Story. It was a terrific dark tale about the sister of a man who got entangled in Voldemort's charm and it was his undoing. So Eileen vows revenge and uses all sorts of illicit magic to create and raise the boy who would be Voldemort's downfall. It was written before Deathly Hallows came out. I started because I had a theory: That to prove themselves to Voldemort, Death Eaters had to kill their own fathers... but by the time I got into it, I loved the writing for writing, remembered what I wanted to do, and woke up the tale that this blog is really about.

The first book I wrote thinking I was going to publish it and be an author was Confluence.

204,000 words at first draft. This tale was about a family that moved to a college town because the father takes a position at the University. The five-year old daughter makes friends with a homeless man who lives in the woods behind their house, unbeknownst to her parents, and the teenaged daughter gets tangled in some teenage stuff. I still love parts of this story, but I tried to do too much. It could be three books. The teenager, Jessie, trapped me. See, her voice was so fun that I started adding to the story and it just got way too complicated. I think Jessie's story, and Trish (the mom) and Hannah's stories are separate. I'd like to get back to them, but as of now, they are behind several “less to do to ready them” tales.

So go check out what other aspiring authors did first...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Where are the Tall Girls?

In books, I mean.

Other people may not be nearly so sensitive on this subject but I am very tall, as women go—about 5'11”. And it seems like especially in YA all the heroines are these little tiny things (the Mistborn series is the latest of many) or else no height is mentioned... believe me... if the heroine was tall, it would be mentioned.

Nancy and Barb--note how Barb stands out
I suppose the culmination of this thought, though, was watching Stranger Things last week. I thought Nancy was an emaciated pixie. But somehow, next to her, Barb just looked large. And I so identified.

Now I never made Barb's hair error—gads--being large enough to be somebody's mother makes you want to be DAMN sure not to have their mother's haircut. The glasses were bad, too, but that is just an 80s side effect—everyone with glasses had those. But yeahnana on the hair...

Anyway... that big friend that the boys never looked twice at? That was me in Jr. High and High School. And the closest I get in books is Lady Brienne, but Lady Brienne WANTS to be a warrior—her size suits her. What about the tall girls aching to be normal? The ones who didn't want to be basketball players, where tall becomes a super-asset. And I'm not talking side kick, or worse, nemesis (why are tall girls the villains?)

Anybody have any book recommendations for me with heroines that are TALL?

How I feel in every picture ever...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Narrow Escape and a Plan *BWUHAHAHAHAHAHA*

So I was in group 5 for jury duty and groups 1-7 were dismissed without ever having to show up. I confess to some small disappointment in this. I'd rather people watch than work, to be honest. Though the looming to-do list would have grown. And I have a couple students, who we call scholars because that sounds more important and all, who are at places in their projects where they need regular help. But they probably wouldn't have minded fooling around for a few days instead of working, too, though they are both winding up with us soon, so time is of the essence as they say.

But back to my missing out on jury duty... I still think this would be a fascinating experience in group dynamics. We will see if my number ever comes up again...


Two plans, really.

There is the WRITING Plan and the FITNESS Plan. And I feel safe to make them now, as we are approaching start of the school year (a natural beginning) and son leaving home (an ending that might also be the end of my wasting quite so much time)--the real thing this ending means is the end of nightly meals. I am content to eat the same thing for 3 nights in a row, which means I could just cook twice a week.

See, my husband was at home for years, when the kids were younger... then, about 3 years ago he got a full time job that runs into the evenings, which left ME making dinner. I had nearly never made dinner—he is the better cook, and more importantly, likes it better. Once upon a time I could come home and dive into social media while hubby cooked, then after dinner could come back to writing.

Anyway... the Writing Plan is:

An hour a day starting August 1
A focus in August of finally getting Medium Wrong queried
A short story every month other than Wri-Mo months
Broadly a cycle of edit two months/write one month

And the Fitness Plan. I used to walk full way, round-trip to and from work—nearly 5 miles a day. In January I changed exercise strategy, trying to “sprint” more and I put in a bus trip in the middle of my commute. It cut my walking time in about half, which through the cold and ice was nice... I kept doing it through spring as there were no weight consequences. And now it's hot. But I think maybe my body has had the break it needed so that adding on walking again might give me a bump.

As for those sprints, I didn't keep them up. They were hard. I know. Whiny baby. They also didn't seem to do much. What I think might be the better focus is just to get strength-building in there. I plan to do 10 minutes a night, after work before dinner, alternating core and extremities by day.

Anybody else thinking about plans?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Short Story Up and Other Misadventures

I mentioned this short story, eh?

I shared it here because it is probably only going to be an insanely large phenomenon for a short time. I mean surely people have lives to get back to... and if they don't, then consider my story not a story, but a warning... erm... so rather than try to publish it traditionally, or even self publishing with art annallat, I just shared it here. Not a bad idea to have a writing sample on the blog anyway, eh?

As for Other Shenanigans...

Are there others? I seem to be surprisingly shenaniganless these days. It's sad, really. So instead of reporting on shenanigans committed, maybe I should take it upon myself to PLAN some.

Who's with me?

Chalk graffiti is a good one... Silly art that does no damage. I promise not too many penises. Erm...

Should I move all the tea bags at work so when someone goes for chamomile they end up with lemon zinger? That is probably just mean.

The little boots help, too.
I have a very tiny spider who keeps returning to hover above my keyboard. And there is a rule around here that under a certain size I am just not prepared to end a life, but man is she starting to get on my nerves, reminding me my house is not terribly clean and she is surely not the only bug within my desk area. But make no mistake, past a certain size, all bets are off. (also—hairy legs on a bug or more than eight legs? Death sentence) Outside I am more tolerant.

So who is watching Stranger Things? I've had several strong recommendations for it, but am almost done catching up on Black Sails so have not gotten there yet.

I hope all of you are having a great week! What shenanigans are you up to!?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Juxtaposed Lives

I am going to delay my summary of my last three push-up days until tomorrow, as I am having some rather profound thoughts I'd like to try to make sense of.

I had a staff meeting yesterday.

For those of you who don't know, I work for an office focused on Health Equity and Inclusion as part of a health system. We are trying to set systems into place so our environment is more welcoming to diverse groups of people—diverse not just in a racial sense, but in terms of (dis)ability, sexual identification and orientation, age, socio-economics, religion. All of it. Because while our experiences may allow us comfort with one or another type of diversity, the fact is, we all have groups we have not been exposed to, and it takes some training to be open in the face of the unknown.

Anyway, because of the work we do and who has a passion for the issues, about half of my colleagues are black. And you know what has been going on.

Our meeting was sort of a workshop—scheduled weeks ago, but at the end there was a moment where a very brave coworker pointed out that US, in our space and with what we do, cannot really separate our mission from what has been going on in the outside world. She admitted to the difficulties championing our mission, when she has had to have very difficult talks with her kids about the realities of how to stay safe.

Another coworker confessed when he started college he thought he'd be dead by 21, because that was what happened to young black males in this country, and that recent events have brought back fears some fifteen years later.

Think about that. Belonging and identifying with a group where you honestly believe you are likely to die before really reaching adulthood, not because you are doing anything wrong, but because of a group you happen to be born into.

And then on my way home... I ran across swarms... of a totally different sorts. Groups ranging in sizes from one to ten, all chasing down a damn Pokemon.

Now I don't have any problem at all with this—it seems fun and people are getting outside and getting exercise (though it is the perfect set-up for a sci fi story, which I plan to write ASAP). At the time that sci fi story was all that was churning in my head—the plot to distract us all...

Only when I got home did I realize how much these two things created an enormous contrast. Who has the luxury to be distracted? How can people disengage from the seriousness of what's happening. It feels to me like things may go really wrong before we wake up and I can't help but be afraid. Afraid partly because I sort of think it needs to happen. I can't see power yielding voluntarily.

I think though, there are things all of us can do. For starters, I don't think most people are intentionally racist, but because of media and cultural messages, and because we surround ourselves, most often, with people who are “like us” we all have inherent bias—and we all should make a point of knowing ourselves well enough that we can at least learn to be conscious of it.

Go take this test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Young Turks covered this last night—I will watch for the link to share that coverage, too. I watched it live. (am watching it) but they post segment links later. Here it is.

Also, can we all pledge in our daily lives to try to talk to and get to know people who aren't like us. I am sure most of you know, but in case you don't, you will find, in the end, people are people. There are good and bad people of all sorts, but MOST people of all sorts are good people.

Most black people are good.
Most white people are good.
Most Muslims are good.
Most police are good.

And so on and so on.

So by all means—have fun, get your exercise, seek your Pokemon... but let's not lose sight.

Please please please practice compassion. People are protesting because they are hurting and things are bad. Cops have hard jobs and deserve our support, but when lines are crossed, they can't be above justice. But assume people mean well until you see otherwise. Don't paint groups based on the bad actors.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Days 18 and 19 of 22: Push-Ups for Veteran Suicide Awareness

Day 18:

So if you are one of my personal facebook friends, you have seen this before. I apologize. But really, I think it is the best lead in.

Push-ups. Harder during a hot flash.

And it's true. Today is my 14 and 8 day... And it was hard. But not impossible. I did it.

Day 19:

16 and 6... Today was the first day the dog actually took enough interest to help, so my right ear is also clean. It wasn't too hard up until 15 and 16 of the first set, then the second set I know my form sucked... but my last set my form has sucked since I got to the knee push-ups. Hopefully getting to where they all happen in one set will resolve that.

The helper in question, Joel

And for content, I am going to do this today because I know I have more potential readers on a Monday than most days and my last day will be Wednesday (for push-ups—Thursday for blog)

This has seemed like a real slog. Long and cumbersome.

But if we want to solve this issue, that is what it takes. Not one day of feeling sorry this happens, but a long-term commitment to doing something about it. A long-term campaign to spread awareness not just of existence of the problem, but of the symptoms and what can be done about it. So we need to all approach this as a marathon. Be vigilant. Watch out for your friends and acquaintances. Let them know you are available if they need you, and don't be afraid to help even if it isn't requested.